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What is phenoxyethanol? How toxic and harmful are they?

Issuing time:2022-08-12 10:07

What is phenoxyethanol? How toxic and harmful are they?

Phenoxyethanol is a new favorite in the cosmetic industry. It is increasingly used as a substitute for benzoate, a cosmetic preservative. It has not been reported in China. A few years ago, the US FDA issued a warning that the areola cream used by a lactating mother named Mommy bliss contained this ingredient. The US Food and drug administration has warned that phenoxyethanol can cause the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis to close.

So, what is phenoxyethanol, which is really safer than benzoate, or should we try to avoid it?

What is phenoxyethanol?

Phenoxyethanol is a kind of glycol ether. It is also called 2-phenoxyethanol, ethylene glycol phenyl ether, ethylene glycol monophenyl ether, and ethylene glycol monophenyl ether. It is a colorless clear oily liquid with a faint aroma. English Name:2-phenoxyethyl alcohol;phenoxyethanol


苯氧乙醇 乙二醇苯醚 毒性

Trade name

  NEOLONE™ PH 100; Protectol™ PE; Euxyl® PE 9010; Dowanol® EP; Euxyl®K 400; Emeressence 1160; Emery 6705; SupGuard® PE10


Use of phenoxyethanol

Because of its high boiling point, high solubility, high polarity, low volatilization rate and low odor, it has become a typical multi-functional excellent solvent. At present, it is widely used in the industry as ink, paint solvent and textile auxiliaries.

Phenoxyethanol is used as an antibacterial preservative in cosmetics and topical pharmaceutical preparations with a concentration of 0.5-1.0%; It is also used as a preservative and antibacterial agent for vaccines. In treatment, a solution with a concentration of 2.2% or a cream with a concentration of 2.0% is commonly used as a disinfectant for superficial wounds, burns and mild infections of the skin and mucosa. Phenoxyethanol has a narrow antibacterial spectrum, so it is often used in combination with other antibacterial agents.

In cosmetics, phenoxyethanol is used as an antibacterial agent, antiseptic and a fixative of perfume. It is usually used in combination with other preservatives.

Domestic cosmetics containing phenoxyethanol mainly include skin care products, body wash, perfume, face cream, lipstick, children's daily necessities, wipes, eye drops, contact eye care liquid, etc.

Toxicity of phenoxyethanol

The material safety data sheet (MSDS) of the product shows that phenoxyethanol is harmful and can cause reproductive damage if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. The material safety data sheet (MSDS) refers to the concentration of 100%, so is it safe at low doses? The concentration in cosmetics is generally 0.5% to 1%.

Through several animal studies, it has been shown that it is toxic at medium concentration and will affect the brain and nervous system. Japan's regulations on the use concentration of cosmetics. In Europe, the European Union has classified it as an irritant product, and has conducted various studies (such as on rabbit skin) to prove the low-dose response. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) data sheet shows that the test will cause chromosomal changes and gene mutations. And left in the white mouse to interfere with reproduction.

There was a report from a medical expert in the United States that he came into contact with a detergent containing phenoxyethanol when cleaning the test equipment, and later had an allergic reaction. It seems that he is very unfortunate. A German research team investigated 9948 allergic patients. Among the 3000 known allergens, phenoxyethanol ranked the top 10.

Phenoxyethanol decomposes phenol, acetaldehyde, and acetaldehyde is converted to acetic acid. Phenol can block the main reaction mechanism of the immune system. Ironically, phenoxyethanol is used in antibacterial vaccines. Phenoxyethanol and ethanol decomposition produce acetaldehyde, which is a suspected carcinogen. According to inhalation studies, acetaldehyde is irritating to eyes, skin and respiratory tract.

FDA warning

  "Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications. It also can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration in infants"

  Phenoxyethanol is a preservative, mainly used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. It can also inhibit the central nervous system, which may cause vomiting and diarrhea, leading to dehydration in infants


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